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Can I get an infection from using sweaty gym equipment? And how can I stay germ free at the gym?

"Ask the Experts" at East Jefferson General Hospital [Web Exclusive Content]

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The first thing you can do is use clothing or a towel between your skin and shared equipment like weight-training, sauna and steam-room benches. You can also wipe down the equipment with an anti-bacterial wipe before using.

Practice good personal hygiene. Wash hands frequently with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Clean hands after playing sports and activities such as using shared weight-training equipment, caring for wounds, and after using the toilet. Alcohol-based hand rubs with at least 60% alcohol content are preferred.

Shower immediately after exercise and don't share bar soap and towels. Wash your uniform and clothing after each use. Drying clothes completely in a dryer is better than hanging dry.

Finally, take care of your skin. Wear protective clothing or gear to prevent skin abrasions or cuts, and cover skin abrasions and cuts with clean dry bandages or other dressings until healed. And avoid sharing personal items such as towels and razors that contact your bare skin.

Carol Scioneaux, RN, CIC, is director of Infection Control at East Jefferson General Hospital. If you would like to find a physician in your area, please contact HealthFinder at 504-456-5000.

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